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Black History

There’s More Than Egypt

There’s pretty much two versions of Africa you see through the lens of the media. Somber music serenades you as images of children with exposed bellies flash across the screen. Then a voice says “ A dollar a day can feed these children.” Does that sound familiar? How about the luxurious sands of Egypt with towering pyramids and pharaohs draped in gold? Even when they show Egyptians they are pale or just plain out white. Two recent movies that come to mind are God’s of Egypt and Exodus. Who star Gerald Butler and Christian Bale respectively.

It’s as if they’ve tried to erase our history. They don’t tell us the whole truth. We have more glorious history to claim on the continent than just Egypt. I don’t even quite grasp the fascination with Egypt. There are a plethora of African Kingdoms that rival the grandness of Egypt. They hide the truth from us. Letting Egypt be the only great empire on the continent and then arguing whether or not they were African.

“They hide the truth from us.”

This is a brief overview of other African Empires that are rarely discussed.

The more known Mali Empire was a West African empire near the Sahara Desert. It was one of the largest empires the world has ever seen with it occupying modern-day Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, and much more. During its height in 1350 C.E. only the Mongol Empire was greater in size. There aren’t many written accounts that have survived until today. The few they have found were written by Arab scholars. Most of the history we know is passed down orally or through works like poems. The most famous ruler Mansa Musa is best known for his pilgrimage to Islam where he took so much gold that the price of it became inflated. He was one of, if not the richest man to ever grace this Earth. He is responsible for the construction of Sankara Madrassa, the greatest library in Africa at the time. It is even thought that they sent a fleet of ships to the Americas.

(Great Mosque of Djenné)

Just South of Egypt was the great empire of Kush or Nubia, where the word Nubian originates from. They were located in what is modern-day Sudan. Their empire soared from circa 1069 BCE to 350 CE. This is the same time when the New Kingdom of Egypt circa 1570 – 1069 BCE was in decline. This would eventually lead to kings of Kush conquering Egypt. Before conquering Egypt, The Kush kingdom lived in relative to peace with its neighbors to the North often trading with them. The ancient capital of Meroe has more than 200 pyramids eclipsing the amount held in all of Egypt. With the relatively small distance that separated the two cultures, we can hypothesize that they had much influence on each other.

(Pyramids that are in Sudan today remnants of The Kush Empire)

Located in modern day Zimbabwe, located in South Africa, a structure made of stone sits. The largest pre-colonial structure in Sub-Saharan Africa. Looking at the site you could almost travel back 900 years and imagine the grandeur of Great Zimbabwe. Shards of  Ming dynasty porcelain and engraved glass The Middle East have been found in the ruins. This is clear evidence that there was trade happening between the nations. Destroying the myth that Africans were uncultured or not technologically advanced. This all happened in the 13th and 14th centuries. The king money was made through exporting gold and ivory. With the king taking half of all profits. This would lead to an immense gain in wealth which they would use to build the impressive stone works that are still there today. The decline of the kingdom would come in the 15th century. It is theorized that trade routes founded by other nations led to the empire’s demise.

(The stone kingdom of Great Zimbabwe)

Located in modern day Zimbabwe, located in South Africa, a structure made of stone sits. The largest pre-colonial structure in Sub-Saharan Africa. Looking at the site you could almost travel back 900 years and imagine the grandeur of Great Zimbabwe. Shards of  Ming dynasty porcelain and engraved glass The Middle East have been found in the ruins. This is clear evidence that there was trade happening between the nations. Destroying the myth that Africans were uncultured or not technologically advanced. This all happened in the 13th and 14th centuries. The king money was made through exporting gold and ivory. With the king taking half of all profits. This would lead to an immense gain in wealth which they would use to build the impressive stone works that are still there today. The decline of the kingdom would come in the 15th century. It is theorized that trade routes founded by other nations led to the empire’s demise.

(A brass plague that would be outside the palace in Benin)

The Benin Kingdom, its original name being Edo, was located in what is modern-day Nigeria. At its peak, the kingdom controlled over 20,000 thousand square miles. Their kings were given the title Oba. The 15th and 16th century was the peak of the kingdom. Primarily thanks to the Oba, Ewuare The Great. Having a strong military mind he built the city into a stronghold. The empire created earthworks so strong and massive that it is said to be longer than The Great Wall of China. This kept invading armies out. Ewuare is responsible for hiring several artists that created works that are still around till this very day. Showing the opulence of The Oba and Africans during this time period.

History is written by the victor. They hide the truth in order to keep a people suppressed. Do not fall into the trap of thinking Africa is the nation of the uncivilized. It’s nothing more than a myth perpetuated by the colonizers in order to discredit the African continent and black achievement.

“I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA”

– Kendrick Lamar

If you would like a more in-depth look, I say you watch “Africa’s Great Civilizations” television documentary.


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Dom Alexander is a writer currently majoring in Journalism. He has his own blog where he covers all topics from mental health to hip-hop.

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